This post on Wine & Marble (hannahettinger.com) (warning: coarse language) and the followup post made soon thereafter chronicle the very unfortunate tale of a young woman named Clare in Richmond, VA, who wanted to put the cap on her time in high school with a good time at the prom. Unfortunately, it was not to be. Quoting the first post:
The only dress code specified on the registration form was that “Ladies, please keep your dresses fingertip length or longer.” Like a good little homeschooler, I made sure that the dress was fingertip length on me; I even tried it on with my shoes, just to be sure. It was fingertip length, I was ecstatic, and I laid down several weeks worth of tip money I had been saving up to buy it.
And you know what happened? I got kicked out of prom because of it.
The post goes on to explain a sequence of events that I, as an adult, find mind-boggling, which I will summarize here (the original post is linked if you want to read it in full). On the night of the prom, one of the prom organizers tells Clare her dress is too short, she shows that it is fingertip length, and the organizer says “make sure it stays pulled down, it’s too short.” And then, fast forward to a few moments later, when this same organizer gestures Clare off the dance floor and accuses her of dancing inappropriately. To make a long story short, Clare is kicked out of the prom for her dress being too short (which it was not, she made sure it was long enough before buying it, and at a considerable expense at that) as well as “inappropriate dancing.”
Clare at least gets her ticket refunded. The rest of Clare’s group is verbally promised a refund (they came to prom together and if Clare is forced to leave, the rest of the group has to leave with her). However, when they walk up front to leave with Clare, only Clare gets her refund. A parent of someone else in Clare’s group calls the prom organizers to ask about the refund, and is told “We aren’t going to do refunds.”
The crux of the problem seems to be the dads on the balcony who were in charge of chaperoning the event. Clare, in the conclusion of the post, says she felt “felt violated by the sheer number of male parents that were assigned to do nothing for five hours other then watch girls in short dresses and heels dance to upbeat music.” I would agree that it is a bit over the top to have a majority of the adult chaperones be male and there is no good reason for it.
Yes, it was a prom for a Christian homeschool (and I’ve discussed religious schools before). The profanity in Clare’s post shows just how frustrated she is. I don’t blame her for “breaking the swear barrier.” I would too, and in fact I have before in similar situations. I don’t see what is so wholesome about giving dads old enough to have teenage daughters five hours’ worth of unrestricted girl watching. I don’t see why half as many couples (mother and father) couldn’t do just as an effective job of chaperoning; the intent behind having couples being to reduce the blatant perverted gazing (by both genders). It’s just not appropriate to have an excess of one gender chaperoning an event like this–men or women.
Back to inappropriate dancing for a moment. According to one of Clare’s friends, there was some truly inappropriate “dirty dancing” going on later in the evening, and nobody else was kicked out for it. Nobody besides Clare, who if she is being truthful (and I have no reason to believe she isn’t), barely moved to the music.
These are high school students, who we are expecting to become adults and act like adults in anywhere from a little over three years after this dance to possibly a few short months. It is shameful that the organizers of this prom and the parents who chaperoned it are showing an incredible lack of maturity in their uneven enforcement of the rules, as well as treating these students as significantly younger and less mature than they are.
Finally, a commenter named Mila may have found the reason (edited for grammar):
I’m a black girl and I would give you MY view. I really don’t think it was because they were ogling at you in that dress… you are pretty, but nothing to ogle over. I think it was because your date is BLACK and they felt very uncomfortable watching you grinding on him… sad but TRUE. You are a very tall blonde white girl with a short (but appropriate) dress dancing on a black guy. They noticed! I doubt they would have kicked you out if your date were a white guy or better yet if YOU were a black girl. This is way worse, and you AND your boyfriend deserve an apology!
I hope Mila’s wrong. I really do. It’s an unfortunate coincidence that this happened barely a couple of weeks after the incident involving LA Clippers owner Donald Sterling which I just blogged about. I had really hoped by now we as a society have moved beyond flagrant racism. I don’t expect the prom organizers to acknowledge that this was racially motivated if it was (quite the opposite in fact). It certainly looks damn suspicious, but I would need to know how much of that “dirty dancing” involved couples of obviously different ethnicities to know for sure. That’s an observation that, unfortunately, was probably just not made at the time.
A little over a month ago marked 46 years that the life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., was brutally ended long before it should have. His final speech stated, in part:
Well, I don’t know what will happen now. We’ve got some difficult days ahead. But it doesn’t matter with me now. Because I’ve been to the mountaintop. And I don’t mind. Like anybody, I would like to live a long life. Longevity has its place. But I’m not concerned about that now. I just want to do God’s will. And He’s allowed me to go up to the mountain. And I’ve looked over. And I’ve seen the promised land. I may not get there with you. But I want you to know tonight, that we, as a people, will get to the promised land. So I’m happy, tonight. I’m not worried about anything. I’m not fearing any man. Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord.
Have we gotten any closer to the promised land of a world without bigotry in 46 years? I hope so. But when instances of racism come to light, I have to wonder for a moment just how far we’ve truly come.